The NCAA’s interim NIL policy didn’t just reinstate NIL rights for college athletes. It quietly opened the market up to an entire new demographic: High schoolers.
Language in the policy’s Q&A section said “prospective” athletes could profit without losing their NCAA eligibility. And while some athletes may be putting their high school eligibility on the line by participating in NIL, others can start cashing in right now.
Wasting No Time
Last week, star men’s basketball prospect Mikey Williams became the first high school athlete to sign with a marketing agency when he inked a deal with Excel Sports Management.
Since middle school, the rising junior has built a social media platform with millions of followers, solidifying himself as an influencer in the grassroots basketball community.
Excel predicts he could make millions, VP Eric Eways confirmed to FOS.
It’s not just Williams. BallerTV, a media company broadcasting youth sports, recently created NFTs for the top 30 boy’s basketball players who participated in the June Pangos All-American Camp.
Each NFT went from $99 to $250, and at least three sold out within minutes, Executive Vice President and co-founder Sandeep Hingorani told FOS. On the secondary market, the NFTs went for, in some cases, 10 times the original price.
“The market reaction to it surpassed all of our expectations,” Hingorani said.
The company put the earnings in a fund for athletes to either accept immediately or defer until graduation, depending on high school eligibility concerns. BallerTV will give players 50% of the profits.
Is Profiting Allowed?
The NCAA cleared the way for high school athletes to profit without risking college eligibility. But as for high school eligibility, there’s a labyrinth of differing state laws and high school rules.
States like Mississippi, for example, passed laws preventing high school athletes from profiting and remaining eligible. But others, like California, don’t have a law on the books about high school athletes. The state’s high school sports association recently said athletes are allowed to profit as long as they don’t use team logos.
There are also teams, like Vertical Academy where Mikey Williams will play, that aren’t governed by state high school associations. That’s why he can start profiting now.
The National Federation of State High School Associations is against NIL activities directly related to their status as athletes — but the organization doesn’t have any power to enforce this position.